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Action on Salt

Publication of the Government’s response to public consultation on the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering services (GBSF): updating the nutrition standards


In 2019 the Government consulted on ‘Updating the nutrition standards in the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF)’. These standards aim to set evidence-based dietary recommendations for public food procurement. All central government departments in England must comply, as well as prisons, the armed forces and the NHS (schools follow different legislation) 

We previously responded to the consultation and we are pleased the Government has now published its response to the consultation, available in full at The Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services: Updating the nutrition standards - GOV.UK ( 

As well as measures to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and fibre intake, the Government has announced that it will take the following steps to reduce salt and sugar intake: 

Reducing salt intake  

  • update the reducing salt mandatory and voluntary nutrition standards to reflect Government’s 2017 salt targets; and any subsequent revisions as set out in the recently published 2024 targets 
  • update the percentage of products that must been the mandatory standards from 50% to 75% of meat products, breads, soups, cooking sauces and ready meals, breakfast cereals and pre-packed sandwiches  

Reducing sugar intake 

update the reducing sugar mandatory standard to state that at least 75% of biscuits, cakes, morning goods, puddings, yogurts and ice creams provided do not exceed the following per portion calorie targets: 

  • biscuits: 100 kcals 
  • cakes: 220 kcals 
  • morning goods: 220 kcals 
  • puddings: 220 kcals 
  • yogurts: 120 kcals 
  • ice cream: 220 kcals 

The updated GBSF nutrition standards, which are supported by a Cost and Benefits Assessment and an Equalities Impact Assessment are available at Sustainable procurement: the GBS for food and catering services 

Hattie Burt, Policy and Communications Office at World Action on Salt, Sugar, and Health says, We welcome the updates to the GBSF and hope that the updated guidelines will encourage food and beverage manufactures, retailers and caterers in the public sector, and beyond, to reformulate their products with less salt and sugar. Although the standards could be strengthened further, we are pleased that our responses in support of salt and sugar reduction were taken into consideration, and additionally that the following proposals from our consultation response have been adopted.  

To encourage engagement and compliance with the updated standards, we recommended Government provide guidance to those supplying food to the public sector.  

  • The Government has committed to publishing technical written guidance by autumn. 

The Government proposed that calorie and allergen labelling be removed from the standards, which we strongly opposed on the basis that menus should provide clear nutritional, ingredient labelling regardless of whether food is packaged or not, for the benefit of public health.  

  • The Government has committed to retain calorie and allergen labelling 



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